Articles about Campeche

The Edzna Archaeological Zone

by: Travel by México

The Edzna Archaeological Zone, Campeche

The Edzna Archaeological Zone

by: Travel by México

The Edzna archaeological site is located 61 kilometers (38 mi) southeast of the city of Campeche,  Mexico. To get there you must take federal highway 180. Once you get to Km. 45, turn off toward  Highway 261 leading you to the ruins. There is another highway that can take you there, which goes through the towns of China Pocyaxum and Nohacal.


The Itza people were a lineage with Chontal origins, which established themselves in this area.  The people of the nearby settlements came to refer to all the inhabitants of this ancient Mayan city as  “Itzaes”  and from that came its name Edzna or Itza meaning “House of Itzas.”  The first evidence of dwelling on this settlement can be traced back to 400 B.C., when a community was established in this horseshoe shaped valley, and agriculture developed as the main activity, creating a well-organized society which erected monumental buildings as well as a creating hydraulic system that provided them with irrigation and water for the dwellings. At the beginning of our era, a centralized government  was instituted in Edzna that legitimized its political power based on the alleged relationship of the rulers to the deities.  It became the regional capital in the western part of the peninsula during the years 400 through 1000 of our era, until gradual decline lead to its total abandonment in 1450.
The main plaza is a large square space, and to the east sit most of monumental buildings of the site.  In the north and south areas there are two roadways that were used for internal circulation.

Structures and Architecture:

La Plataforma de los Cuchillos (The Platform of Knives) had rooms with vaulted ceilings on the ends, and its central sector was reused to build more modest rooms roofed with perishable materials. El Patio de los Embajadores (The Courtyard of the Ambassadors) is lined to the west by two buildings that each have four columns which date back from 1000-1200 B.C.
El Nohochna  “The Big House”  was possibly used for administrative functions, but may also have been used as stadium seating to watch the events that were held in the Main Plaza. This structure has four long galleries at the top, which were accessible through the openings between the large pillars.
The South Temple is comprised of five parts, with molding and corners that converge at the rear of the building in a broad slope, on which a temple stands that dates back from between the years 600 and 900 A.D.
The Ball Court is composed of two parallel structures whose upper areas are erected with rooms that were possibly used to place in it the images of the deities associated with the event, and the appropriate equipment for the game and its participants.

The Temple of Masks has two representations of the sun god, one at dawn and the other at dusk, both made of molded stucco. Both masks have anthropomorphic characteristics with the aesthetic attributes of the elite, such as crossed eyes, dental mutilation, nose rings, ear rings and large headdresses.
The Small Acropolis is comprised of a quadrangular shaped foundation dating from 200 B.C., in whose top there sit four buildings which form the central courtyard. Some of the most ancient elements of  Edzna are found at this structure, such as the great stucco mask from the Early Classic period, and three stelaes of the eighth baktun (between the years 41 and 435 A.D.) and pottery dated between the years 400 and 250 B.C.
The Great Acropolis is a large quadrangular area on which several monumental structures are erected, most notably the The Five-Storey Building which has five floors with cresting and vaulted rooms, a broad staircase on the west side, and glyphs on the cambers that indicate the date 652 B.C.

The North Temple consisted of a foundation, and a long broad staircase which led to a major axis or two elongated corridors, which were later covered up with recessed panels, some decorated with tiny drums and wide slopes. The crowned shrine underwent at least four changes. In front of this temple there is a C-shaped platform which corresponds to the later occupation of Edzna from 1200 to1400 A.D.

The Puuc Courtyard is surrounded by several buildings which were re-covered with well-carved square, rectangular and cylindrical blocks. In the North Building, triangular and circular shaped blocks can also be seen which form large frames. Located on the building with curved slopes is a sculpture in the shape of a square frame with representations of Chaac, and glyphs in which celestial bands can be seen, the day Imix and the month Yax. Just at the entrance to the Main Courtyard, the Temazcal is located, a Nahuatl term that when translated into the Yucatan Mayan language is choko sintumbilha, which refers to a steam bath (sweat lodge) where access was restricted because of the religious importance.

La Vieja Hechicera (The Old Witch), is another major structure that is located 800 meters (2,625 ft) northwest of the five-storey building. There is a staircase on the eastern side.  The bodies of the foundation have rounded and tucked corners.  And, at the top of the building there is a small shrine.

Entrance: $46 pesos. Open daily from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs.